UK could benefit from Olympics-style momentum if ITSWC bid successful

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The UK’s ITS network would be able to generate London 2012 Olympics-style momentum were its bid to host the World Congress be successful, a senior Department for Transport (DfT) figure has said.

Addressing the Transport Technology Forum (TTF) in Bristol last week, DfT’s traffic and technology head, Anthony Ferguson, explained that benefits of hosting the event would begin instantly upon the day of it being confirmed – even though it would be four years before the event took place. He also announced that the next future mobility zone would be revealed imminently and expected the new UK government to give more attention to rural mobility.

Traffic Technology Today reported the UK’s announcement of its bid to host the ITSWC 2024 in October last year and with the host nation yet to be announced, Ferguson described himself as an optimist about the UK’s chances.

He said, “A lot of people in this room contributed massively to the bid to host the ITSWC in 2024.

“What a fantastic opportunity that would be because that’s not going to be a big thing in four years time, it will be a big thing the day it is announced and if we’re successful in that then it would set a bit of an agenda for the next four years which creates something that we could all talk about.

“There’s nothing that ministers and politicians like best than a big event because it gives focus – a bit like the Olympics did in 2012 – it gives us a date to work towards.”

Separately, the senior civil servant revealed that the new Conservative-led DfT would be announcing a new future mobility zone in the next few weeks that would further support ITS developments in the UK but also the wider traffic industry.

Going forward, these new zones would have a name change with the word ‘mobility’ dropped in favour of ‘transport’ but self-deprecatingly Ferguson acknowledged this was not a major change.

“I’m being a little bit cheeky in telling you this but the ‘mobility’ word, you won’t see much of that”, he said.

“We’re going back to the good old traditional ‘transport’ so future mobility zones you might want to think of as future transport zones now.

“It’s not the biggest announcement I’ve ever made in my life, but my point is that these are opportunity areas.

“They are going to be large scale demonstrators; places where, ideally, we want people from all over the world to come and see what we’re doing and see stuff actually on the ground.

“It won’t be just limited to ITS at all as the running of the road network is definitely going to be a part of it, so that’s another big possibility.”

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James joined the Traffic Technology International team in 2017. Previously he was Assistant Editor on an engineering title for several years and has worked for various other trade magazines before that. James is happily married and has a young daughter and son who keep him busy.

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